How to Make Collagen
Making collagen is an ancient process. Horse hooves and the skin, horns, tendons and organs of many animals have been used to make adhesives, food and more for over 8,000 years. The process was simple and efficient, using a few common ingredients, fire, water, and a big pot. Modern recipes add purification and hygienic steps for medical and cosmetic grade collagen, and preparation details vary slightly depending on animal parts you start with, but the basics remain the same.
Clean hooves, horns, skin, sinew, gristle, organs and tendons by removing meat (muscle), fat and blood. Bone also contains collagen but its hardness may make it difficult to process by this method.
Place the whole, cleaned, raw materials in water, sufficient to cover, and boil 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Discard the water to eliminate debris, meat fragments and fat.
Quench the solids immediately in cold water (60 degrees Fahrenheit) and clean away and lingering meat. The most thorough way to complete this cleaning is by hand.
Cut the solids into small chunks (1 inch pieces or thin strips are convenient) and add the boiled solids to fresh water in a 1:2 mixture by volume. Cutting into chunks increases surface area exposure to hot water.
Add one teaspoon of apple cider for each 5 pounds of solids. The purpose is to mildly acidify the mixture. Other food-grade acids like vinegar or citrus juice may also be tried.
Heat the mixture to just below boiling (170 to 208 degrees Fahrenheit) for three hours, by which time the mixture will begin to thicken and gel. Any flavor and color desired for the final product can be added in this step.
Cool the mixture. Air drying under blowing, room-temperature air for four hours produces a firm and clear product. This is edible collagen gel with a chewy texture.
Use your purified collagen (if unflavored) to make flexible and crack-resistant hide glue, as used in violin making and other fine woodwork. Collagen also provides the basis of gummy bears, gelatin deserts and many other candies, makes up the foundation of many cosmetics--both surface-applied and injected, provides thickening to ice cream, sour cream and yogurt, and a constellation of other products.
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